Food: Vegan Smørrebrød

Smørrebrød, (lit. butter and bread), or open faced sandwiches, are an iconically Danish dish, but much of their popularity is due to a recent renaissance thanks to Adam Aaman’s Deli and Takeaway. Before that, their heyday was during the 19th century when they were eaten in Copenhagen restaurants by men playing cards. These days they’ve become an art form in themselves, each sandwich carefully constructed like ‘Nordic sushi’.

Using my recipe for Vegan gravlax I decided to come up with some classic combos. Smørrebrød needs good bread base so I bought a seeded rye rugbrød from Brød in Cardiff. The smør (butter) element is just as important to the dish as the bread, so make sure you layer each slice with a generous spread of your favourite butter, Vegan in my case. Spread liberally, In Denmark they say you should ‘spread corner to corner’.

Here are three classic varieties.

For the laks you’ll need:

  • 4 slices of Vegan gravlax,
  • Sprig of dill
  • 4 slices of cucumber salad,
    • Half a cucumber, sliced finely
    • 4tbsp sugar
    • 4tbsp white wine vinegar
    • some mustard seeds; some black peppercorns
    • Handful of fresh dill, chopped finely
    • a few bay leaves and a splash of water.

To make the cucumber salad simply combine the ingredients in a small bowl and leave to do their thing for an hour or two at least. It’s best to leave them for longer so the cucumber has time to soften a bit. I make mine up and leave them in the fridge as they last for ages.

To assemble, simply combine artfully & garnish with a sprig of dill 😀

For the kartoffel, you’ll need:

  • 3 medium new potatoes, boiled, cooled and sliced into coins,
  • A dollop of vegan cream cheese,
  • A spoonful of seaweed caviar (available from IKEA),
  • Sprinkle of crispy onions,

For the cream cheese I used Oatly’s PåMackan that I brought back from my trip to Malmö. Sadly it’s a Scandi exclusive for the time being but any Vegan cream cheese would work. I personally like the one from Bute Island Foods.

Again, to assemble, simply layer artfully with the potatoes at the bottom.

For the Levepostej og rødbeder, you’ll need:

  • 2tbs of Vegan leverpostej (see below),
  • 3 pieces of crinkle cut pickled beetroot,
  • 1tbs of chopped parsley,
  • 3 rings of lingonberry pickled onions:
    • 1 red onion, sliced thinly on a mandolin,
    • 1tbs lingonberry cider vinegar (IKEA),
    • 1tbs lingonberry syrup (IKEA),
    • A splash of water,

Again, the pickled onions benefit from having been made in advance, but an hour or two will do. As for the leverpostej (liver pate), this was a bit harder to replicate. It’s a classic Danish ingredient but for a Vegan it requires a degree of creativity! I used the mushroom pate from Suma, which is very rich and delivers that meaty body that you need. To give it the classic pink hue I simply mixed in some pickled beet juice! Hey presto – a convincing alternative is born.

Enjoy your smørrebrød with a shot of cold snaps – oh, and don’t forget to use cutlery! (It’s a faux pas to pick them up with your hands in Denmark :P)

SKÅL!

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Food: Gulrødspølse

Inspired by my many trips to Denmark, and their national fast food the rødpølse, I’ve made my own vegan version, which is tasty AF and a lot cheaper than sourcing the Danish hotdogs! You’ll often see a pølsevogn (or hotdog cart) on most street corners in Copenhagen!

The ristet hotdog is a rødpølse with many toppings. They are quite an experience to eat, trying to not drop it all on the floor is like a national challenge. Good luck, but it’s worth the challenge!

The recipe is similar to my Currywurst one, so feel free to make double the amount for two different Northern European dirty favourites!

Once again, I highly recommend prepping the carrots in advance, they’re dead simple to prepare but it makes all the difference when they’ve had time to marinate.

You’ll need:

  • Two medium sized carrots (per person)
  • 1tbs Smoked paprika,
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard,
  • 1-2 drops of liquid smoke,
  • 1tbs of cider vinegar,
  • 1tbs of light soy sauce,
  • 1tsp Garlic infused oil
  • 10ml water

Remoulade:

  • 3tbs vegan mayo,
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder,
  • 1 small gherkin, chopped,
  • handful of parsley, chopped,
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard,
  • 1tsp sugar,
  • 1tbs finely chopped onion
  • 2 chopped capers

To serve:

  • Ketchup (the Danes have a special hotdog ketchup, which I got from Scandi Kitchen but regular ketchup will also work)
  • Mustard
  • Handful of crispy fried onions
  • 1 Sandwich gherkin or 3-4 gherkin slices
  • 1tbs of chopped onion

Begin by topping and tailing the carrots and “carving” to make rounded ends, a bit like a wurst or hotdog style sausage. Peel the carrots and simmer in salted water on a medium heat until soft. Don’t over boil because they’ll fall apart and be of no use to anyone! You want the knife to slide through but not disintegrate when you lift them. When they’re done leave them to dry out and cool.

When they’re dry put them in a freezer bag or container to marinate with the paprika, cider vinegar, oil,  liquid smoke, mustard and soy sauce. Leave them to soak up the flavours for 3-4 hours or best, overnight. They’ll keep for a few days in the fridge if you’re making them well in advance.

Remoulade to the Danes is what brown sauce is to Brits or fish sauce is to the Thai, to make this curry infused mayonnaise sauce is rather easy. Simply, add all the ingredients and mix into a creamy, piquant sauce. Once mixed, Set aside.

To cook the hotdogs, simply take them out of the marinade and brown them in a pan, remembering to turn them. Once brown on all sides, they’re ready to load up!

Home your dog in a hotdog bun and top it with all of the toppings. Start with the ketchup, mustard and remoulade. Then the gherkins and the onions.

Serve with some fries or dill potatoes. Traditionally the Danes pair it with chocolate milk (even grown ups!) or a cold bottle of Danish beer like Tuborg.

Velbekommen!

 

Also- If you are in Copenhagen, the D.Ø.P pølsevogn do a cracking vegan hotdog!

 

Food: Butternut squash and thyme frikadeller

Here’s a quick recipe to make when you’re stumped to rustle up something. It’s great for entertaining and a Vegan twist on a Danish classic!

You will need:

  • Half a roasted butternut squash, de-skinned
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp garlic paste/1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 20g rye bread crumbs
  • 1 tin of butter beans, drained
  • 1tbsp dried parsley
  • 1tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • Pinch of salt
  • Generous amount of cracked, black pepper

To make start by quartering and deseeding the butternut squash then place in a deep baking tray. Drizzle with vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and cover with foil and bake in the oven at 180° for around forty minutes. You can roast the squash in the bottom of the oven when you’re cooking other things – basically, roasted squash is a really versatile ingredient, especially in Autumn and Winter, so bung one when it’s convenient.

Check when they’re done by poking with a fork – they should be really soft. Take them out and allow them to cool (so they’re okay to handle) and save half the squash for a future recipe (soup is good). When they’re cool, scoop out the flesh of the other half and add to a mixing bowl.

Soften the chopped onion in a little oil and add to the mix. Combine the rest of the ingredients and mash with a masher until the beans are broken up and not too big. You can freeze whatever mix you don’t use or otherwise allow to rest in the fridge for a day or two. Form the mix into round, meatball sized balls and shallow fry in a little vegan butter until browned on all sides.

Serve with some boiled potatoes and a simple cucumber salad/pickle;

  • Half a cucumber, sliced finely
  • 4tbsp sugar
  • 4tbsp white wine vinegar
  • some mustard seeds; some black peppercorns
  • dill, chopped finely
  • a few bay leaves and a splash of water.

Make sure the cucumber is covered and leave to do its thing for at least an hour or two, longer if possible – it’ll keep in the fridge for AGES).

 

Velbekomme!

Design: Normann Copenhagen in Homesense

On Monday evening, perusing around Homesense with Tom, I came across this treasure trove of Scandinavian design. They had boxes and boxes of Normann Copenhagen design. I couldn’t believe my luck!

Agnes Vases in all different shapes & sizes from the mini up to the 32cm one & the fat  ‘plant pot ‘ looking one, all priced from £3.99 up to £7.99, (Which is an absolute bargain considering they usually start at £10 and can go up to as much as Seventy quid!)

The Agnes Vase, designed by Agnes Fries uses Handmade Chinese porcelain from Jingdezhen and combines & contrasts it with a top of black hand-painted brush strokes. Its subtle yet striking, graphic and perfect for a monochrome/ Scandinavian styled interior.

I decided to go for the 20cm vase, a Goldilocks among the rest in my opinion. Being ‘Not too big, not too small’ it doesn’t get swallowed up by a room, but it isn’t also too large to be a centrepiece on my small dining table, and at £6.99 instead of £39.99 I just had to get it!

They also had the Floe tealight holder there in so many shades & hues. I picked up two considering they were £3.99 each in coral and dark green, perfect for both my Spring/Summer  & my Autumn/Winter looks! Designed by the Spanish designer Ramírez i Carrillo to echo a traditional antique oil lamp, it gives a small but impacting atmosphere when styled into your interior.

When I got home I immediately had to take them out of the boxes and incorporate into my Winter décor.

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the Agnes Vase looked perfect on my Normann Copenhagen Block Table, rubbing shoulders with some succulents & my Yule candle from Flying Tiger Copenhagen & Menu X Stokke Austad candle holder. I used a branch, that we had lying around from last christmas and adorned it with some of our homemade baubles & himmeli.

I followed this tutorial by Nalle’s House to make the ornaments. It all fits so well together, with the vase completing the look. Not too ‘out there’ & Kitschy Christmassy. Monochrome, just festive enough & classy!

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The Floe fits perfectly on my IKEA side table keeping my little Tomte company. It looks great with the Sanna Annukka illustrated ‘The Fir Tree’ by Hans Christian Andersen underneath, strengthening the green and it also works well with the Iittala Aalto pieces, all creating a nice harmonious look.

Let’s hope some Normann design is at your local Homesense store, but get it quick as it will vanish fast!

DESIGN & FOOD: OUR TRIP TO COPENHAGEN PART II (II)

Continuing from my previous post on Louisiana, the Entry fee was surprisingly cheap at only 115 DKK (£11.50) for Adults and 100 DKK (£10) for me, a student. It lets you into any of the exhibitions and the numerous permanent collections. One thing I am unsure of is whether you can see the permanent pieces for free – but to see Kusama, it’s well worth it.

I’ve known about Kusama’s work for ages, but it wasn’t until a documentary last year on BBC4 about her & the Pop art scene had I really started to tune in with her and her work. The documentary was both brilliant and harrowing. I hadn’t realised that her life is governed by these polkadots, a symptom of her depersonalization syndrome, which made seeing it in real life all the more poignant and thought provoking.

The exhibition follows Kusama’s life work and the development of her life from her beginnings in a conservative, restrictive Japan, to her revolutionary body of work and performances in New York, to the work she has created from the hospital that she resides in in Tokyo.

 

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One of the installations in the exhibition is a red room lined with mirrors, with big statues of red spheres all festooned with Kusama’s dots. It truly is a sight to see and experience. The exhibition is on until the 24th of January, so if you’re in the area I’d urge you to see it!

At the time there was also an exhibition looking at Lucien Freud’s sketches. Accustomed to his vast paintings, this exhibition gave an insight on the artist, his process and made me appreciate him more than I already did (which is hard).

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Louisiana itself has amazing pieces of its own right from famed Danish artists like Asger Jorn, Karl Isakson and Richard Mortensen to International artists like Giaccometti, Klein, Warhol, Oldenburg to name a few. The place is chock full of great pieces such as their sculpture Garden, which features works by  Joan Miró, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder & Max Ernst.

 

 

 

I was in art heaven! I hadn’t been this close to a piece of Giaccometti’s work before. After studying his use of forms in my life drawing classes, I could see every contour in the sculpture. It was great! It had made my day, and it was only the early afternoon! It was also great to see a school, out on a trip sketching and studying the sculptures.

Before we set off again (with some new art books in tow) we just marvelled at the view from the building. It was a glorious day and I swear you could see Skåne/ or a part of Sweden across the crystal blue water.

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We made our way back on the train southward. It was past 2pm by this point and the breakfast had long vanished. I was ravenous. When we got back into the bustling capital, leaving the quiet suburbs behind, I had to grab something to eat. That was where the famous and trusty Danish hotdog stand or Pølsevogn came in handy.

Say hej to the famous Rødpolse. A hotdog sausage by nature, this foodstuff is something that Danes hold close to their hearts, and I would too. You can have it on its own, in a bun or ‘french style’, which is in a baguette style bun with a hole cut in the middle. Then come the toppings. The Danes love their toppings! You can have crispy onions, raw onions, mustard, ketchup (although different from Heinz), a Danish condiment called remoulade (is something else close to the Danish hearts) which tastes creamy with mayo and tart with a pickly bite. Or do as the Danes do and have them all or ‘alle’. It costs under 50 DKK, which makes it the cheapest form of fast food (considering the likes of McDonalds and Burger King are far more expensive than here in the UK) you can see how its a revered symbol of Denmark in the same way that wurst is a symbol of Germany.

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With the motor up and running again, we dropped back our stuff at our host’s apartment then it was back out again. Since Copenhagen is the city of bikes – seriously like everyone cycles – it’s weird seeing hundreds of bikes outside office buildings, essentially the equivalent of a car park. We just had to give it a go. We had a plan of moseying on down to the Normann Copenhagen store on Østerbrogade, and whilst we were at it we’d soak in some of the scenery. Now bear in mind, other than exercise bikes, my feet hadn’t touched bike pedals since I was 14. We rented out some of the city bikes which weren’t too bad a price 25 DKK per hour, but I definitely know it is cheaper (and probably better) to rent a bike from a bike shop, as they were damn heavy. Heavy and cumbersome to move, they definitely weren’t getting stolen any time soon xD As I mentioned, being inexperienced I was a bit wobbly at first but I soon found a steady rhythm (my hands hardly moving  away from the brakes and always behind Tom.) It really is a nice city to ride in, very scenic as you pass the lakes. Before long we had arrived at our destination.

 

The flagship Normann was huge and beautiful. Situated in a building that used to be an old theatre and water distillery, it is 1700 m2 of pure Scandi, stripped back design. I was loving it! All of my favourite Normann Copenhagen products were set in amazing geometric displays. They even had the beautifully designed (but hard to find in the UK) Normann Tea range. What I loved the most were the little Form Chair  miniatures peppered throughout the space, it gave it a sense of fun and whimsy. Like finding a hiding Little My from the Moomins. With some chai tea, in a beautiful citrine tin and a Skandinavisk KOTO candle (co designed by my favourite little Irishman Mr Walnut Grey, as part of the Design Bloggers United) . Now, somehow we had to get it all back and it was rush hour. Err, we hadn’t really thought this through. Tom being the hero that he is managed to carry the bag on his arm and cycle. This is nothing compared to the Danes though, being so used to cycling you see people having a morning chat, carrying a baby, carrying groceries all whilst cycling. From having little/ no confidence at the beginning, I was starting to become a bit cocky. I wanted to chat side by side with Tom, but in practice it was a distaster. Forgetting that they also use the lane to overtake and in rush hour, here was me going a nice steady pace chatting away with my partner before being sworn off the road by an angry Dane. The Danish are a lovely people but don’t be stupid and mess around with their cycling IN RUSH HOUR!

Finally getting back to the apartment, we chilled for a few hours before heading off for my birthday feast with my childhood friend, Rhianwen (IG @adashofplants) and her partner, Trine  (IG @milkingalmonds) who runs the amazing vegan food hub that is Milking almonds. I couldn’t wait! Reading their blogs had got me into food blogging myself plus I hadn’t seen Rhianwen in years, I just knew it was going to be amazing.

We started off with a simple dressed bean & chilli squash salad with raw onion to give it some bite. That made way for the main event… Pulled jackfruit tacos with more chilli spiced squash, a piquant creamy sauce, vanilla infused pickled onions and plenty of fresh coriander. All washed down with a number of Cuba libres and bottles of Corona. It was off the scale tasty and jackfruit is such a convincing meat alternative, that an omnivore (albeit I like to embrace many plant based recipes in my diet)  I could not tell the difference. Either that or it’s the cooking 😉

We finished the night off with some cinnamony sweet churros with a deep, dark and really spicy chocolate dipping sauce. It was the best birthday present ever, thanks/tak/diolch!!

Full and slightly tipsy from the rum, it was time to say goodbye and head home back to the apartment.

 

 

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Design: Our Trip to Copenhagen Part I

So, last October during half term my partner and I finally went to Copenhagen! Being the bona fide Scandiphiles that we are, our visit was a long time coming! After a year of buying a house, spending the summer months getting the living room and kitchen sorted we really needed a break. We could have chosen any of the Nordic capitals but Copenhagen seemed to have it all to suit our interests and budget! We booked flights in August but found that all the hotels and hostels were quite expensive so we turned our attention to Couchsurfing.com and found a nice chap in central Copenhagen who suited our needs and time frame.

We went from Monday to Friday (but leaving in the morning), so we had four solid days to explore, which were ample. Any less and we wouldn’t have felt like we’d seen enough – and that was without seeing some of the really touristy stuff like the Little Mermaid! Our first impression of the city was of its exceptionally organised and reasonably priced public transport with which we became intimately acquainted as we got lost several times on the way to finding our host’s flat! Fortunately we had the rest of the afternoon to explore the city.

Copenhagen is flat and easily manageable on foot but by bicycle it really comes into its own. More than half of all traffic is by bike and the bike lanes themselves take precedence over everything else – look out cars and pedestrians! Having said that, our stroll into the centrum took about fifteen minutes and brought us to the intersection where Tivoli meets the city hall. We popped around the corner to the Radisson Blu SAS (and ventured in to see the Arne Jacobson designed building & interior). It was amazing seeing my most revered pieces of design in the context for which they were created. So many of the design classics of Jacobsen were made for this hotel, namely the Swan chair & sofa, the Egg chair, the AJ lamp. It was a real pilgrimage.

We’d planned jaunts for the other days so this late afternoon stroll was purely an exercise in soaking up the city.Our stroll took us through the main shopping district and began with the flagship Tiger store – all three floors! It was amazing. It had so many products that had long gone from the UK ones, or that seemed exclusive to Denmark. I was hoarding as much as I could carry, not thinking I’d have to somehow get them home. Round the corner on Østergade, were so many of my favourite design houses. Georg Jensen, Royal Copenhagen and HAY HOUSE. I was in heaven!

HAY HOUSE, especially caught my attention. The Danish brand has a store in the UK, in Bath, but sadly as of yet I haven’t had the chance to go.  The interior of the place was amazing, with its white walls highlighting the amazing design of the furniture and accessories inside. Plus, with its big panel glass windows, gave an amazing view over the street below.

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After scaling through all my favourite shops and new ones such as Illums Bolighus, it was time to start going home. Illums Bolighus which, like Skandium here in the UK had all the big Scandinavian designers in one place, but this one had more, such as Bjørn Wiinblad porcelain. However, on the way back to our host’s apartment I managed to find a few more shops to slink into, such as the amazing Søstrene Grene. Like Tiger, SG has a wide variety of products  from Jam and tea to cutting edge design and it’s so cheap too! Back home I was shocked to find out that there isn’t one at all in the UK, In Dublin weirdly, yes and In the Netherlands, France and Spain- as well as the other Nordic countries :(. I’m glad I bought as much as I did. Tom wasn’t though, he could see me being sidetracked shop after shop, and the Krone kitty was depleting, so, he steered me in the right direction home. We ended the night with amazing Vietnamese take out with our host, Theis. I had beef pho and glass noodles. Salty, hot & sour.Amazing!